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Indicted vs Charged – What is the Difference?

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Indicted vs Charged – What is the Difference?

Being accused of a crime can be a scary and confusing experience. You may hear that you have been “charged” or “indicted” and not understand the difference between these two terms. While they sound similar, there are some key distinctions between being indicted and being charged that are important to understand.

What Does It Mean to Be Charged With a Crime?

When a prosecutor believes they have enough evidence to prove you committed a crime, they can file formal charges against you. This is what it means to be “charged” with a crime. The charges are contained in a document called the information, complaint, or petition. This document lists the specific crimes you are accused of committing.

Charges can be filed in both felony and misdemeanor cases. Felonies are more serious crimes like murder, rape, or robbery. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes like petty theft, simple assault, or minor drug possession. Both felony and misdemeanor charges initiate the criminal process against you.

Being charged does not necessarily mean you will go to trial. Many criminal cases end with a plea bargain or get dismissed altogether. But the filing of charges is the first step in prosecuting you for an alleged crime.

What Does It Mean to Be Indicted?

An indictment is a formal charge against you approved by a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of citizens who listen to the prosecutor present evidence and testimony about your alleged crime. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence to charge you, they will return an indictment.

Indictments are less common than regular charges filed by the prosecutor. They are typically used for serious felony cases at the state level and for most federal criminal prosecutions. So you are more likely to simply be “charged” than “indicted.”

Like a regular charge, an indictment only means the state is formally accusing you of a crime. It is not a finding of guilt. You maintain the presumption of innocence unless a jury later convicts you after trial.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Key Differences Between Indictments and Charges

While indictments and charges can both lead to a criminal trial, there are some notable differences between the two:

  • A charge is filed directly by the prosecutor, while an indictment is issued by a grand jury.
  • Indictments are typically used for serious felony cases, while charges can be filed for both felonies and misdemeanors.
  • Grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret, while the prosecutor’s decision to file charges is public.
  • Defendants often have a right to a preliminary hearing on regular charges, but usually cannot challenge an indictment pre-trial.
  • Prosecutors need to convince grand jurors to issue an indictment, versus unilaterally filing charges themselves.

The Steps After Being Indicted or Charged

Once you have been indicted or charged with a crime, the next steps in the criminal process will depend on the specific court system and procedures in your jurisdiction. But in general, the prosecution phase after charges or an indictment include:

  • Arraignment – You appear in court and are formally advised of the charges against you. You enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  • Preliminary hearing – The judge listens to evidence to decide if there is enough for the case to proceed to trial. This step often happens in regular charge cases but usually not with an indictment.
  • Pretrial motions and discovery – Your defense attorney and the prosecutor exchange information and evidence through the discovery process. Pretrial motions may be filed to address evidentiary issues or constitutional matters.
  • Plea negotiations – Many cases end with a plea bargain rather than a trial. Your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Trial – If no plea agreement is reached, the case will proceed to a trial where a jury listens to evidence and reaches a verdict. You may choose to waive your right to a jury and have a bench trial where only the judge decides.

It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you from the very start of your case. An attorney can advise you of your rights, analyze the prosecutor’s evidence against you, and start building your defense strategy immediately.

How an Attorney Can Help After an Indictment or Charge

The period after getting indicted or charged is critical for building your defense. An attorney can help by:

  • Negotiating with the prosecutor for dismissal or reduction of charges
  • Seeking to get evidence or confessions suppressed
  • Investigating the circumstances of your case and interviewing witnesses
  • Filing motions to protect your constitutional rights
  • Advising you on whether to take a plea bargain or go to trial
  • Presenting a strong defense if your case goes to trial

Having skilled legal counsel in your corner can make navigating the criminal process much less intimidating. Your attorney will handle communications with the prosecutor, file the appropriate motions, and build a case theory focused on reasonable doubt of your guilt.

Don’t Face an Indictment or Charge Alone

Being indicted or charged with a crime sets off a complex series of events in the criminal justice system. Having experienced representation ensures your rights are protected at every stage. A knowledgeable lawyer can often get charges reduced or even dismissed before a trial becomes necessary.

If you are facing an indictment or have been charged, the most important thing you can do is hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can analyze the evidence against you, develop an effective strategy, and give you expert guidance as your case progresses through the system.

Defending yourself against criminal accusations is not something you should do alone. The consequences of a conviction can haunt you for years. An attorney levels the playing field against the power of the prosecutor and gives you the strongest chance at the best outcome. Don’t leave your fate to chance – make the right pick and hire an attorney.

Fighting an Indictment or Charge

The best way to fight an indictment or charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the prosecutor’s evidence and look for legal and factual weaknesses. Some strategies attorneys use to fight indictments and charges include:

  • Filing motions to dismiss the indictment or charge if there are legal deficiencies
  • Conducting an independent investigation to uncover exonerating evidence
  • Interviewing prosecution witnesses to challenge their accounts
  • Retaining expert witnesses to rebut the prosecutor’s experts
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dropped

For indictments, the defense may be able to get the indictment dismissed by the grand jury or challenge it with a motion to quash. Your attorney can also try to prevent the prosecutor from obtaining an indictment in the first place by submitting exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.

The Bottom Line

Being indicted or charged with a crime are both serious matters with major consequences if convicted. The main difference lies in who makes the formal accusation – a prosecutor or a grand jury.

In both situations, the key is to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A skilled attorney can thoroughly analyze the prosecutor’s evidence, protect your rights, and build the strongest possible defense on your behalf.

With an attorney guiding you, it may be possible to get an indictment dismissed or regular charges reduced or dropped. If charges do proceed to trial, your lawyer can hold the prosecution to meeting their burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Don’t leave the outcome of your case to chance. Get experienced legal representation right away to give yourself the best opportunity for the most favorable result.

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RAJESH BARUA

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